|Publication number||US8046259 B1|
|Application number||US 10/279,088|
|Publication date||Oct 25, 2011|
|Filing date||Oct 23, 2002|
|Priority date||Oct 23, 2002|
|Also published as||US8997005|
|Publication number||10279088, 279088, US 8046259 B1, US 8046259B1, US-B1-8046259, US8046259 B1, US8046259B1|
|Inventors||Hilliard B. Siegel, Ashish Agrawal, Ezra Cooper, Robert Frederick|
|Original Assignee||Amazon Technologies, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (9), Non-Patent Citations (5), Referenced by (35), Classifications (9), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The described technology relates generally to conducting a computer-based chat session.
The Internet is increasingly being used to conduct “electronic commerce.” The Internet comprises a vast number of computers and computer networks that are interconnected through communications links that facilitate electronic communications between vendors and purchasers. Electronic commerce refers generally to commercial transactions that are at least partially conducted using the computer systems of the parties to the transactions. For example, a purchaser can use a personal computer to connect via the Internet to a vendor's computer. The purchaser can then interact with the vendor's computer to conduct the transaction. Although many of the commercial transactions that are performed today could be performed via electronic commerce, the acceptance and wide-spread use of electronic commerce depends, in large part, upon the ease of use of conducting such electronic commerce and its advantages over more conventional means of commerce. If electronic commerce can be easily conducted and provides significant advantages, then users will choose to use electronic commerce. Therefore, it is important that techniques be developed that facilitate conducting electronic commerce and that provide advantages over conventional commerce.
The Internet provides a network that facilitates conducting electronic commerce because it uses standardized techniques for exchanging information. Many standards have been established for exchanging information over the Internet, such as electronic mail, Gopher, and the World Wide Web (“WWW”). The WWW service allows a server computer system (i.e., web server or web site) to send graphical web pages of information to a remote client computer system. The remote client computer system can then display the web pages. Each resource (e.g., computer or web page) of the WWW is uniquely identifiable by a Uniform Resource Locator (“URL”). To view a specific web page, a client computer system specifies the URL for that web page in a request (e.g., a HyperText Transfer Protocol (“HTTP”) request). The request is forwarded to the web server that supports that web page. When that web server receives the request, it sends that web page to the client computer system. When the client computer system receives that web page, it typically displays the web page using a browser. A browser is typically a special-purpose application program that effects the requesting of web pages and the displaying of web pages.
Currently, web pages are generally defined using HyperText Markup Language (“HTML”). HTML provides a standard set of tags that define how a web page is to be displayed. When a user indicates to the browser to display a web page, the browser sends a request to the server computer system to transfer to the client computer system an HTML document that defines the web page. When the requested HTML document is received by the client computer system, the browser displays the web page as defined by the HTML document. The HTML document contains various tags that control the displaying of text, graphics, controls, and other features. The HTML document may contain URLs of other web pages available on that server computer system or other server computer systems.
The WWW portion of the Internet is especially conducive to conducting electronic commerce. Many web servers have been developed through which vendors can advertise and sell product. The products can include items (e.g., music) that are delivered electronically to the purchaser over the Internet and items (e.g., books) that are delivered through conventional distribution channels (e.g., a common carrier). A server computer system may provide an electronic version of a catalog that lists the available items. The items may be organized into categories and subcategories so that a user can browse the categories to find an item of interest. A user, who is a potential purchaser, may browse through the catalog using a browser and select various items for purchase. When the user has completed selecting the items to be purchased, the server computer system then prompts the user for information to complete the ordering of the items. This purchaser-specific order information may include the purchaser's name, a credit card number, and a shipping address for the order. The server computer system then typically confirms the order by sending a confirming web page to the client computer system and schedules shipment of the items.
Although the use of the WWW is expanding rapidly because it facilitates the buying and selling of goods through electronic commerce, the WWW also makes easily accessible vast amounts of information that are not directly related to electronic commerce. For example, a public library may make its catalog of books available through the WWW. A person can browse through the catalog to identify available books on a certain topic. As another example, various news reporting organizations are publishing stories on the WWW. The news reporting organizations may or may not charge a fee for accessing their stories. Whether or not a fee is charged, the news reporting organizations may derive revenue from advertisements provided when a story is accessed.
In general, the providers of web sites want to encourage access to their web sites because, for example, they may derive revenue from such access (e.g., advertising revenues) or the access advances their goal of disseminating information (e.g., a library catalog).
When a user locates information on the WWW, the user may want to share the information with other users or obtain additional information from other users. For example, some web sites allow users to write reviews about items, such as books, that are being offered for sale. Other users can then read the reviews in hopes of making a more informed decision whether or not to purchase the item. Such reviews, however, are not interactive. A user who reads a review cannot easily ask a follow-up question of the reviewer or add follow-up comments of their own. In addition, reviews may reflect a reviewer's position several days or weeks ago and may not reflect current assessment of a product. For example, a reviewer may have indicated two months ago that a certain book was the best book on the market but now believes that a newer book is better. It would be desirable to have a mechanism that would allow users to exchange information about items or categories in real time. In addition, it would be desirable for a web site to provide additional information to the users that is related to the topic of their information exchange.
A method and system for conducting a chat session with multiple chat members is provided. In one embodiment, the chat system receives chat comments from chat members. The members may provide their chat comments by typing or speaking their comments, or by any means by which comments can be provided by chat members. Once the chat system receives a chat comment from a chat member, it attempts to identify a product or item associated with the chat comment. For example, the chat comment may be “Harry's magic is powerful.” Based on this comment, the chat system may infer that the topic of this chat comment is Harry Potter books and may retrieve an advertisement for the book entitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The chat system then effects the display of the chat comment along with the retrieved information to each chat member. In this way, the chat system dynamically recognizes products or items pertaining to chat comments and displays relevant information along with the chat comment.
In one embodiment, the chat system interacts with an e-commerce web site through which items can be purchased. (Although the chat system is described as operating in conjunction with an e-commerce web site in one embodiment, one skilled in the art will appreciate that the principles of the chat system can be used in other environments. For example, a topic recognition aspect of the chat system can be used to augment conventional chat systems on content-focused web sites.) The e-commerce web site may provide a browse hierarchy that a user may use to select items of interest. For example, the top-level nodes of a browse hierarchy for a web site that sells books may include the categories of “Arts and Photography,” “Children's. Books,” “Literature and Fiction,” and so on. The child nodes for the “Children's Books” category may include a “Literature and Fantasy” subcategory. The leaf nodes of the browse hierarchy typically represent individual items, such as a book that can be purchased. In one embodiment, a chat session may be associated with any browse node within the browse hierarchy. Thus, multiple chat sessions relating to different categories or items may be simultaneously active. When a user requests the display page (e.g., web page) for a browse node that has a chat session associated with it, the web site adds to the display page an indication that a chat session is associated with the display page. The indication may be a button that when selected by the user allows the user to join the chat session.
The chat system may dynamically associate chat sessions with and disassociate chat sessions from browse nodes. For example, if a chat session associated with a browse node consistently has too many members requesting to join the chat, then the chat system may associate chat sessions with the child nodes (or other descendent nodes) of that browse node. Members that would therefore typically join the chat session for the parent node may instead join in the chat sessions of one of the child nodes. Similarly, if a chat session associated with a child node rarely has members joining in a chat, then the chat system may associate a chat session with the parent node (or other ancestor node) and disassociate the chat session from the child node and optionally its sibling nodes. The chat system therefore allows traffic to be dynamically distributed or aggregated in accordance with the popularity of the particular chat node. More generally, chat sessions may be associated with any browse node and a path of browse nodes may have sessions associated with or not associated with each browse node along the path.
In one embodiment, the chat system recognizes the topic of a chat comment based on results of queries previously submitted by users. Such recognition is experience-based in the sense that it relies on analysis of previous user interactions to help identify the topic of a chat comment. E-commerce web sites typically allow users to submit queries to locate items of interest as an alternative to browsing through the browse hierarchy to find items of interest. For example, a user trying to locate Harry Potter-related books may type in the query “Harry.” In response, the web site may provide a list of books that include several books related to Harry Potter and several books related to Harry Truman. If the user selects a link to a Harry Potter book, then the web site may establish a relationship between the query “Harry” and the selected Harry Potter book. Alternatively, the relationship might only be established if the user eventually purchases the Harry Potter book, rather than when the user selects the link to the book. The web site may also record that users selected Harry Potter books 90% of the time and Harry Truman books 10% of the time. Regardless of how the web site establishes the relationship, the chat system may use the relationships between user-submitted queries and items as a basis for recognizing the topic of the chat comment.
When the chat system receives a chat comment, it may identify the user-submitted query that is most closely related to the chat comment. For example, if the chat comment is “Harry's books are great,” then the chat system may determine the user-submitted query of “Harry” is the closest related query. One skilled in the art will appreciate that many different techniques may be used for determining whether a chat comment is related to a user-submitted query. For example, the chat system may identify words of interest of the chat comment and search for a user-submitted query that includes all of those words of interest. (A word of interest may be defined to be any word other than noise words such as “a,” “the,” “and,” “with,” and so on.) If such a user-submitted query is found, then the chat system assumes that the topic of the chat comment relates to the user-submitted query and retrieves information about the item related to the query that was established when the query was submitted. For example, the related item may be the book entitled Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and the retrieved information may be an advertisement for that book. The chat system may then send the information about the related item so that it can be displayed to each chat member along with the chat comment. If the same user-submitted query is related to different items (e.g., a Harry Potter book and a Harry Truman book), then the chat system may select one of the items based on various techniques. The chat system may select the item, for example, based on how many times it was selected as a result of the query, how recently it was selected, or the topic of other chat comments in the chat session.
One skilled the art will appreciate that many different techniques and combinations of techniques may be used for recognizing the topic of a chat comment. In an alternate embodiment, the chat system recognizes the topic of a chat comment based on comparison between words of interest in the chat comment and words of interest in the title or description of items. Such recognition is referred to as “description-based recognition.” For example, the words of interest for the book entitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone may be “Harry,” “Potter,” “Sorcerer,” and “Stone.” If the chat comment is “Potter's sorcerer book is great,” then the chat system may identify the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as the most closely related book because it might be the only item that includes “Potter” and “sorcerer” in its title. If, however, the chat comment was “Harry Potter's books are great,” then the chat system may determine that four different books include “Harry Potter” in their title. In such a case, the chat system may decide not to display information relating to any of the books because no specific book could be identified as being the most related to the chat comment. Alternatively, the chat system could randomly select one of the identified books. The chat system may also consider the topic of previous chat comments within the chat session when identifying an item that is related to the current chat comment. For example, if the previous chat comment was “His sorcerer's book is the best,” then the chat system may determine that the book entitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the most closely related, even though the current chat comment is not specific enough by itself to uniquely identify that book.
The chat system may also factor into the recognition of the topic of a chat comment various attributes of the member submitting the chat comment. For example, the chat member may have previously submitted many book reviews that users found to be very informative. In such a case, the chat system may give higher priorities to display advertisements for items identified as a result of chat comments by such a chat member. For example, the chat system may decide to only display advertisements identified from chat comments a particular chat member makes while that chat member is actively participating in the chat. Alternatively, the chat system may display such advertisements for a longer period of time. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the chat system may use many different attributes, such as age, occupation, gender, and so on when recognizing the topic of a chat comment or when selecting additional information.
A chat member submits a chat comment by entering the chat comment in the chat input field 104 and then selecting the send button 105. When the chat system receives the chat comment, it attempts to identify its topic and may display an advertisement for an item related to the topic in the advertisement area 107. The chat member list 103 contains the names of the chat members currently participating in the chat session. The chat system may allow each chat member to block chat comments from other chat members. For example, if the chat member Bob found John's comments to be annoying or irrelevant, then Bob could block John's comments by selecting John's name in the chat member list and then selecting the block button 106. When the chat system then receives comments from John, it will not send those comments to Bob.
The advertisement area 107 contains an expanded advertisement for the most recently identified related item and compressed advertisements for the previously identified items. In this example, the most recently identified item is the book entitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The expanded advertisement includes an icon that links to a display page for the book along with the book's title, the price, and possibly a description of the book. The compressed advertisements, such as the item entitled “Harry Potter Paperback Box Set” represents a link to a display page with detailed information about the item. Thus, when a new advertisement is to be displayed, the advertisement that was previously displayed in expanded form is displayed in compressed form, and the new advertisement is displayed in expanded form. The top sellers area 108 may contain links to display pages for items that are currently top sellers at the web site. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the layout of the illustrated display pages are examples of possible display pages. The actual layouts can be varied based on user preferences, user interface criteria, and so on. For example, the related information (e.g., advertisement) may be displayed in a separate pop-up window.
The chat system may include a chat manager component 611, a product recognizer component 612, an add/remove member component 613, a chat store 614, a browse hierarchy 615, a node/product mapping 616, a product database 617, and a recognizer database 618. The chat manager component 611 receives requests from users to join and leave chat sessions, receives chat comments from the chat members, identifies product or product category advertisements related to the chat comments, and distributes the chat comments and advertisements to each chat member of the chat session. The product recognizer component 612 receives a chat comment and identifies a product or product category from the product database that may be related to that chat comment. The product recognizer component may identify a topic of a chat comment based on information stored in the recognizer database 618. The recognizer database may contain mappings of user-submitted queries to product identifications. The add/remove member component 613 adds members to and removes members from chat sessions. The chat store 614 may contain a list of the chat comments and advertisements associated with each chat session. When a user joins a chat session, the chat system may provide the new member with a list of previous chat comments associated with that chat session. The chat system may, for example, only provide the ten most recent chat comments to a new member. In such a case, the chat system may only store the ten most recent chat comments for each chat session. The browse hierarchy 615 of the chat server describes the browse hierarchy of the web server. The chat system uses the browse hierarchy when chat sessions are dynamically associated and disassociated with browse nodes. The node/product mapping 616 contains a list of those products that may be advertised during a chat session associated with that browse node. By limiting the advertisements for a browse node to a set of products, the chat system can ensure that a chat member who strays from the overall topic of the chat session will not cause spurious advertisements to be displayed. For example, a browse node for a certain Harry Potter book may only have products directly related to Harry Potter books associated with it. Thus, if a chat member starts commenting on the trilogy entitled The Lord of the Rings, the chat system will not display any advertisements for those books. The product database 617 may contain the advertisement information for the products associated with the leaf nodes of the browse hierarchy.
It will be appreciated that different techniques may be used to supplement or restrict those products whose advertisements are displayed by the chat server 601. In one embodiment, the chat system may regulate the display of advertisements based on the attributes of the chat member. For example, advertisements unrelated to the current browse node might be displayed when the chat member is a highly regarded reviewer or is designated as a moderator or facilitator of chat sessions. In one embodiment, the chat system may pace the rate at which the topics of chat comments are recognized. For example, the chat system may maintain a circular queue of the most recently reviewed chat comments. At a specified time interval (e.g., one-tenth of a second), the chat system will recognize the oldest topic in the queue and select the related advertisement as appropriate. If the chat system supports many chat sessions, then chat comments may get overwritten and never recognized. The chat system will, however, continue to function without being overloaded. One skilled in the art will appreciate that various additional techniques can be used to schedule a chat comment for recognition. For example, the chat system may give scheduling preference to chat sessions that have had the same advertisements displayed for an extended period of time. In this way, the chat system can ensure that a chat session will have new advertisements displayed periodically though the previously displayed advertisement might have been for the item most relevant to the topic of the chat session.
In one embodiment, the chat system may download client code to each client computer to facilitate the conducting of a chat session. The client code may work in conjunction with a standard browser to allow chat members to enter chat comments, receive chat comments and related advertisements from the chat server, and display the chat comments and related advertisements.
The web server 603 may include an add chat link to page component 621, a receive chat message component 622, and a page/chat store 623. The receive chat message component 622 receives from the chat server messages indicating browse nodes that have associated chat sessions or that may be related to the topic of a chat session associated with another browse node. The receive chat message component may store this information in the page/chat store 623. The add chat link to page component 621 may be invoked whenever a display page is generated to determine, based on information in the page/chat store, whether a link to a chat session should be added to the display page.
The client computers, the web server, and the chat server may include a central processing unit, memory, input devices (e.g., keyboard and pointing devices), output devices (e.g., display devices), and storage devices (e.g., disk drives). The memory and storage devices are computer-readable media that may contain instructions that implement the chat system. In addition, the data structures and message structures may be stored or transmitted via a data transmission medium, such as a signal on a communications link. Various communications channels other than the Internet may be used, such as a local area network, a wide area network, or a point-to-point dial-up connection.
In systems where chat sessions are assigned more frequently, in block 1104, the component identifies the child nodes. The component then creates chat sessions associated with one or more of those child nodes or alternatively creates chat sessions with one or more other unrelated nodes that are the topic of the ongoing chat in block 1105. The component then returns. In one embodiment, the component notifies the chat members of the parent node of the creation of the chats at the child or other nodes and allows the members to opt in to join the chat in the child or other nodes.
In another embodiment, the chat system may leave the chat session associated with the parent node until all chat members leave that chat session, but not allow new chat members to join that chat session (e.g., by no longer sending a message to the web server that a chat session is associated with the parent node). Once all the chat members have left the chat session, the chat system may disassociate that chat session from the parent node. Alternatively, chat sessions at the parent node and the child nodes may all be allowed to continue if in doing so the chat load remains more equally balanced across the nodes.
From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that although specific embodiments of the technology have been described herein for purposes of illustration, various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, the chat system may limit the number or frequency of advertisements displayed as a result of chat comments made by each member. This may help prevent the comments of one chat member from dominating the selection of the advertisements (or other additional information). The chat system may also allow advertisements for products that are well known or with high profit margins to be displayed for a longer time period. For example, the topic of any information exchange can be recognized using an experience-based or description-based recognizer. If the information exchange is a telephone conversation, then voice recognition can be used to identify the words. The topic of the words can then be recognized and related advertisements can be presented (e.g., on a display of a cell phone). Also, topic recognition may be applied to a one-way flow of information. For example, a topic of a radio or television broadcast may be dynamically identified using voice recognition, and an advertisement can be selected based on that topic. Accordingly, the invention is not limited except by the appended claims.
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|Jan 17, 2003||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: AMAZON.COM, INC., WASHINGTON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:SIEGEL, HILLIARD B.;AGRAWAL, ASHISH;COOPER, EZRA;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:013683/0064
Effective date: 20030110
|Jul 9, 2008||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: AMAZON TECHNOLOGIES, INC., NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:AMAZON.COM, INC.;REEL/FRAME:021215/0827
Effective date: 20080709
|Feb 28, 2012||CC||Certificate of correction|
|Apr 27, 2015||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4